The biggest convention of the year is underway in downtown St. Louis — the 40,000 member United Church of God in Christ Convention, gobbling up 25,000 hotel rooms in the area.

Downtown sidewalks are busy with men in dark suits and ladies in hats. And the convention center is abuzz with a week long series of meetings, worship services, seminars, charity outreaches and prayer.

Presiding Bishop Charles Blake says one of the challenges facing the Pentecostal denomination is winning new converts among young people, who are often more interested in good times in the here and now.

“We’re competing against childhood parents. We’re competing against drugs. We’re competing against violence. We’re competing against black-on-black crime,” Blake said.

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